The Rapidian

Local writer battling brain cancer seeks help to write his story with Kickstarter campaign

David Wenzel is asking for funds to help him take eight months to write his memoir, "Thank You, Kung Fu." The Kickstarter campaign ends on July 26, with a goal of raising $40,000.

Campaign Donations

Wenzel's campaign will end on July 26. As of July 8, backers have donated more than $12,000 of the $40,000 goal. His full message and campaign goals can be found on his page.

A Grand Rapids man with an inoperable brain tumor turned to Kickstarter, an online fundraising service, to help write his life story. David Wenzel, a 33-year-old writer, wants his story to serve as an advisory narrative for the millennial generation and for those who must face difficult situations in their lives.

According to Wenzel, millennials have a unique sense about themselves, in that they are authentic, giving and connected. They grew up being told that they could solve all the world’s problems, even though they still deal with their own problems, he says.

“I want to write a book for the millennial generation that shows what happens when life falls apart,” Wenzel says. “Essentially, I’m the guinea pig for how a millennial handles really horrible things happening. Because I’ve already gone through all these things, what can you learn from me?”

After Wenzel discovered his cancer in June of 2009, which doctors predicted would kill him within three years, he underwent a series of trials, including a divorce from his first wife after 10 years of marriage in 2010 and inadvertently getting his best friend pregnant in 2013.

While the outlook looked grim at first, Wenzel found reason to enjoy his new path in life. He quit his job as a filmmaker with Dot&Cross and went on to found his own ghostwriting business, Robin Hood Ink., in 2010. In 2014 he married his best friend and in May they had their second child together.

“It’s so weird to see misery somehow land me in a place where I’m at right now, which is with the girl I’m supposed to be with and the kids and living in the city that I love,” Wenzel says. “All of a sudden, I opened my eyes one day and I thought ‘I like my life better now.’”

By early 2015 he began the process of publicizing his life story. From his friends and family, he received support, but from publishers he again faced difficulty.

“I wrote a book proposal, as one does, and we offered it up to secular publishers and Christian publishers and I was somewhere in the middle,” Wenzel says. “I was a first time author under my own name. No one would take a risk.”

Undeterred, Wenzel instead turned to Kickstarter to fund his book at the suggestion of a friend. He was initially tentative about leaving the fate of his story to crowdfunding.

“If you do Kickstarter and it doesn’t work, that’s the equivalent of you sitting in a room full of all of your friends and saying ‘I want to tell my story,’ and them responding with ‘meh,’” Wenzel says. “I know that my life is going to continue to go on, but I think this issue has been with me for so long that I need to put it to bed, and I’m either going to do it with a book or forget about it.”

Still, he’s gone ahead with the campaign and already raised more than a quarter of his $40,000 goal. With about two and a half weeks to go, he still believes his story is important to tell for the people of today and of the future.

“This is just a key moment for me,” Wenzel says. “Is this going to happen? I hope it does, because I’ve got my daughters. I would love to give my daughters the story of their dad, and ‘Thank You, Kung Fu’ would essentially be that.”

Wenzel will make an appearance at Failure:Lab, an interactive story-telling event, at Start Garden on July 17 to share his story and promote his Kickstarter. Proceeds will go toward his Kickstarter, which ends on July 26.

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